Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Empire Strikes Back

The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy seems bound and determined to strike back swiftly -- and in most cases ruthlessly -- at priests who won't toe the line. Not counting Fr. Helmut Schüller, who so far has gotten off pretty lightly by simply being stripped of a couple of titles, here are some of the victims this year:

Fr. Roy Bourgeois (United States)

"Crime": Participation in the ordination ceremony of a Roman Catholic woman priest and refusal to recant his participation.

Punishment: Excommunication, suspension a divinis, and involuntary laicization and dismissal from religious order.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

Fr. Bill Brennan (United States)

"Crime": Concelebrating a liturgy with a Roman Catholic woman priest.

Punishment: Partial suspension a divinis (no public sacramental acts), silencing, and cannot leave his diocese without his superior's permission.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

Fr. William Rowe (United States)

"Crime": Refusal to adhere to the specific wording of the Roman Catholic Mass.

Punishment: Forced retirement from his pastorship of St. Mary's Parish, barred from performing any Catholic rites, including celebrating Mass and officiating at weddings. Fr. Rowe is now a volunteer at a different parish.

Source: Belleville News-Democrat

Fr. Greg Reynolds (Australia)

"Crime": Giving a homily supporting women's ordination and supporting a more inclusive approach to ministry to homosexuals.

Punishment: Forced resignation and has been offered only $5,000 for his 32 years of service, whereas the usual payout for priests who resign is $1,500 per year of service. Fr. Reynolds now heads a community called Inclusive Catholics.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Fr. Mario Bonfanti (Italy)

"Crime": Came out as a gay man on his Facebook page and revealed his support for same sex unions.

Punishment: Suspended a divinis and excommunicated. Fr. Bonfanti subsequently left the Catholic Church and is now reported to be pursuing the priesthood in the Epsicopal Church.


Fr. Joseph Palacios (United States)

"Crime": Publicly presenting himself as a gay priest and speaking out in favor of same sex marriage. Founding member of Catholics for Equality, which has been politically active on this issue.

Punishment: Put on inactive leave by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, "unable to say Mass or distribute the sacraments, may not wear a Roman collar, and cannot in any way present himself as a priest in public."

Source: Catholic News Agency

Fr. Gastón Garatea (Peru)

"Crime": Publicly voicing support for the same sex civil union proposal in the platform of one of the candidates (who lost) in his country's 2011 presidential election.

Punishment: License to minister as a priest in the Archdiocese of Lima suspended by Cardinal Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani. He may not celebrate Mass or administer any of the sacraments in that jurisdiction. Fr. Garatea is a Sacred Heart father.

Source: ACIPrensa

These are only the 2012 cases that we know about and so we'll stop here...for now...

POSTSCRIPT - 12/7/2012

The digital ink has barely dried on this post and we have another case, this time involving a deacon.

Deacon William Ditewig (United States)

"Crime":  Co-authoring a book, Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (Paulist Press, 2012 -- for those who want to show their solidarity by buying this book), which supports the ordination of women as deacons in the Catholic Church.

Punishment: Banned from speaking publicly in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Deacon Ditewig, who is the author of 10 books on the diaconate and is the former head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for the Diaconate, was due to address a gathering of deacons, their wives, and diaconal candidates in the Archdiocese.

Source: National Catholic Reporter


  1. …”Gay priest? No problem as long as doesn’t act on that with the parishioners.
    Women priest? Yep, is time? But:
    Marriage is between a man and a woman. A priest that supports the opposite better leave and form his own congregation in Lalaland.”
    Chronicles of the exiled Force dwellers
    Master Obi Wan.

  2. It should be noted for the record that these cases involve priests supporting CIVIL gay marriage or unions. This has nothing to do with changing the definition of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Catholic Church itself or performing gay church weddings. These men are simply recognizing that we live in a culturally and religiously diverse world and that the Church can no longer impose its values on everybody (in fact, it hasn't even been able to impose its values on its own members...but that's another story).

  3. Why was the Deacon punished for advocating women deacons when historically and biblically we have had them before? So what's the big deal? Isn't the hierarchy going against Biblical teaching by denying women deacons?